Last Updated: Feb 13, 2018
How do you write an handbook for your ? What do you need to in it? Whether you’re writing your first manual or you’re updating one you’ve had for a while, this article explains the topics you should cover.

hand should be designed to do more than just communicate information and answer routine questions; your handbook should help you achieve your organizational and objectives. Thus, while a list of rules of conduct and a summary of benefits are important information, you should evaluate your handbook on its ability to help your organization meet its objectives.

One purpose of your handbook is to help you attract and retain s. Your handbook should help your s answer — hopefully in the affirmative — two important questions: “Why should I work here?” and “Why should I continue working here?”  If your s are receiving a positive message about your organization, your handbook is doing its job.

Your handbook should also help convey useful information about of work, paydays, leaves of absence, and benefits. More importantly, your handbook should help create an atmosphere of trust and respect and give your s a sense of belonging.

At the same time, your handbook must help you comply with your legal obligations and ethical requirements. It must also help you protect management’s right to make changes and adapt the organization’s policies and progra as needed.  

Since your organization and its s are affected by all of your written and unwritten policies and procedures, you should ensure that your handbook incorporates as many of your organization’s written and unwritten policies and procedures as practical. You must further ensure that your handbook communicates top management’s commitment to your policies. As a result, your handbook will promote istency and assist you in preventing clai of disparate treatment.

You should regularly assess your handbook, only from the standpoint of how well it communicates policies and procedures, but also from the standpoint of how well it helps you achieve your organization’s and objectives. hand that fail to help your organization succeed in these areas should be rewritten. 

Below is a recommended list of handbook topics:

Section One: General Employment Policies

This is where you define the basic policies that explain how, when and where your s are expected to work. You may want to include the following information in this section:

All of these elements are important in their own way. Without a non-disclosure agreement, your could breach confidentiality and have no idea that they were supposed to discuss a topic outside of work. Without a conflict of interest policy, you might have an seek a business relationship with aher organization that s your operation at risk, yet have no recourse as your policy was spelled out. Therefore, it is important to include most, if all, of the sections above in your handbook.

Section Two: Employment Status

This is aher category that is important in your handbook. You may want to include the following two sections:

Section Three: Recruiting and Hiring

Your handbook should lay out the ins and outs of your s’ legal obligations during their employment at your organization as well as your process for recruiting and onboarding. At a minimum, you need to cover your policy on eligibility to work in the U.S. The following categories are also recommended, but required:

Section Four: Compensation and Salary Administration

Include the following ite in this section:

These ite are also recommended:

Section Five: General Workplace Policies

What time should I show up for work? What is the dress code? How many s can I take? Spell this out. In order to ensure the best work ethic and safe work environment, you may want to include the following sections in your handbook:

These ite can also be helpful:

Section Six: Benefit Progra

You may want to include some or all of the following ite in this section, depending on your specific benefits package:

Section Seven: Leave

By creating guidelines of when it is appropriate to p time off (PTO), vacation, or sick days, your s will be better able to manage their leave time. Include the following sections in your handbook:

The following ite can also be helpful:

Section Eight: Organizational Property and Technology

Every organization is different as to whether they allow their s to use their phone or comer at work, and whether they supply their s with these tools.  Include the following policies in this section:

The following ite can also be helpful in this section:

Section Nine: Performance and Workplace Conduct

How do you expect your s to behave while at work? What qualifies as misconduct? What kind of performance is idered grounds for termination? How will performance be evaluated? Include these policies:

You may also ider adding the following ite in this section:

Section Ten: Separation from Employment

Include the following ite in this section:

You may also ider including an item on references for current and former s.

Section Eleven: Acknowledgment Form

Employers often worry that their hand will be used against them in litigation. In particular, you could be concerned that s will claim that your policies are contracts that must be followed exactly. However, the simple act of ting your policies in writing should create a binding contract, if the policies are written as guidelines that explain “generally” or “typically” what your requirements are and how s “normally” will be treated.

Label your “introductory period” policy carefully. Do use the traditional phrase “probationary period” with its union security clause conations. Instead, use you might want to use the term, “introductory period”, meaning that the new is being introduced to the organization and that both the and the company have the opportunity to evaluate fit.  

Include a clear at-will statement in the policy. An example of an effective statement is: “Your employment with the Company is idered to be at-will, and the employment relationship may be terminated at any time by either party.” Make sure other policies also include appropriate at-will disclaimers. It is enough to include the at-will statement just in the introductory period policy. You also should have a separate at-will policy and discuss the issue in other policies, such as those addressing hiring, termination, discipline, performance evaluation, and complaint resolution.

No matter the size of your organization, a well-written, up-to-date, legally compliant handbook is a best practice that will benefit you and your s.

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